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Complete Review & Description

The Rush series of racing games have been around forever. Many people, both gamers and non-gamers, are well-aware of the franchise, which has survived for more than a decade on both home consoles and in arcades across the world. For a long time, Rush defined arcade racing. While the series could be criticized for lacking any real depth or realism, it has consistently delivered fast-paced, high speed racing played out across a variety of exciting environments. Unfortunately, the Rush franchise declined as players became enamored with games like Gran Turismo and would no longer tolerate the comparatively simple gameplay of the Rush series. Rush quietly disappeared from mainstream gaming. However, the developers decided that the series couldn’t die so easily, and released RUSH, a street-racing game that attempts to beat the competition at what they’re best at.

Unlike the original Rush games, which were light-hearted racing games with no real point, RUSH is all about the storyline. You play as an incredible racer in the Los Angeles, California racing scene. One night, when you’re just partying with a bunch of incredibly hot girls and your friends, you get in an argument with a wealthy businessman who crashed the party. After you insult his girlfriend, he decides to take revenge by using his contacts to repose all of your cars – save one, your very first ride – and leave you between a rock and a hard place. Since you can’t go to the cops (either because the villain controls them or because your possessions were all gained illegally), you have to get all your cars back and get revenge all on your own.

Naturally, you get all of your cars back by racing through Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. The environments that you race through are standard city streets, marred by traffic and occasional police cars that will attempt to stop you if they catch you racing or crashing into other motorists. You can take short cuts to lose the cops – or the competition – to get to the finish line faster. While you have a GPS to track where you are in the city, the shortcuts aren’t always listed, so you’ll have to rely on your own quick thinking (and reflexes) in order to gain a few extra feet on your opponents.

But while the city can be interesting to race through, it usually isn’t because it’s entirely devoid of life. Perhaps because of the street racing epidemic, all pedestrians have vacated the side walks. As for the few souls that dare brave the actual streets in their cars, for some reason, they all bought the same few models of vehicles, leading to boring traffic jams. And for all the traffic that downtown Los Angeles is infamously known for, there are few real traffic buildups to slow you down. This is a major let down because both the Need for Speed: Underground, Burnout and Midnight Club racing games have mastered using traffic to ratchet up the intensity of races. Races in RUSH lack that intensity and if you’re commanding a major lead, can even be boring. Even cruising from event to event can be horribly uneventful.

Controlling vehicles is simple, but it’s not very true to life. Though you would expect heavier vehicles (trucks, SUVs) to feel differently than light vehicles (sports cars), they often feel very loose and turning can be problematic. Though you may expect a truck to take a turn more difficultly than a car, I found very little variation in the handling of most vehicles. All of them seemed to turn way too easily for my tastes and you seem to drift in the most simple of turns. This is never too problematic because the game is one of the easier racers on the market, so even if you do botch a turn, you can quickly catch back up and move on.

Customization of vehicles is a huge part of street racing games. While your cars are customized in RUSH, they’re customized automatically by driving into the garages of West Coast Customs, made famous by MTV’s Pimp My Ride. You just pull your car in, they give you a price, and your ride comes back out totally pimped with a gaudy paintjob. While gearheads might be bothered by the lack of true customization, I didn’t mind because I generally have no idea what I’m doing in the garage. I usually just buy whatever part I can afford that makes my car go faster and move on. RUSH takes all of the guess work out of customization and gets you back into the races.

RUSH features a huge garage of vehicles from a variety of automakers and all of them can be destroyed in massive wrecks. RUSH’s best feature is arguably the graphics engine that powers it. Metal bends and glass shatters as you slam into traffic or walls (which is usually complimented by a dramatic camera angle that shows you the true extent of the damage). The city itself looks great and the lighting effects are spectacular. It’s almost impossible to see where you’re going when the sun is setting in your eyes. But, I would have given up those sun effects for a few pedestrians scattered about.

The developers of RUSH were tasked with bringing the series back into popularity. These developers determined that the best way to bring the series back to popularity was to emulate what was popular, instead of sticking to their old guns. Instead of developing an arcade-oriented game in the same vein as the old Rush games, the developers chose to develop a street-racing game centered in Los Angeles. While this approach probably would have garnered some attention a few years ago, the market for street racing video games is so saturated at this point that essentially, no one cared or paid any attention to the latest Rush release. In truth, I honestly believe that a traditional Rush game, marketed at a low price-point, would have probably sold better than this strictly par street racing release.



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